The campaign clock is counting down in Bayonne

First Ward, school board, county, and assembly candidates will appear on the Nov. 5 ballot

The campaign clock is counting down in Bayonne
Councilman Neil Carroll III

Election Day, Nov. 5, is right around the corner. Meet the candidates asking for your vote.

First Ward Councilman

Incumbent Councilman Neil Carroll III (4C), a teacher in Bayonne’s public school district, is vying for his first full term, after he was unanimously appointed to fill then-Councilman Tommy Cotter’s vacancy 11 months ago. Peter Franco (3C), John R. Cupo (1C), and Paul Hagdorn (2C) are the three challengers.

Carroll’s challengers wanted a debate, but it didn’t happen.

Hudson County View’s John Heinis said Carroll would have been willing to engage in a professionally-run debate, but that he’d now rather knock on residents’ doors in what little time is left.

Carroll has endorsements from the Hudson County political machine. He’s the grandson of freeholder Neil Carroll Sr. and the nephew of former Bayonne Mayor Mark Smith. He’s been hanging out with U.S. Rep. Albio Sires. Carroll and the Hudson County Democratic Organization are aligned.

Carroll said his top priorities would be expanding parking, addressing Bayonne’s chronic flooding, adding community events, and maintaining the booming development to upgrade neighborhoods that have become promising for developers and new commuter residents in Bayonne.

Franco wanted the debate. He opened a campaign headquarters about 20 feet from Carroll’s, with just a barbershop sandwiched between them.

Franco opposes the Davis administration, especially the frequency and lengths of tax abatements or Payment in Lieu of Taxes agreements that the council offers to property developers. While the developers eventually pay full-scale property taxes, Franco favors decreasing tax cuts for greater immediate revenues. Many of his programs are contingent on PILOT cutbacks.

Cupo is a real estate executive. He is a a former member of the Jersey City Planning Board and a current member of the Bayonne Housing Authority. He’s been aggressive on and offline, publishing a flurry of sleek social media ads. He’s waged several unsuccessful campaigns for both council and Board of Education.

Cupo, a Republican, hopes to advocate for Bayonne’s GOP-affiliated voter base, which makes up about 7,000 to 8,000 people. Though he received an endorsement from New Jersey GOP Committeeman Joshua Sotomayor Einstein, local and county GOP heads have been relatively mum in this election.

Cupo said that Bayonne’s Republicans are being shortchanged because he wasn’t endorsed by Bayonne GOP Chairman Vincent Cuseglio or Hudson County GOP Chairman Jose Arango.

Hagdorn, a longtime real estate broker and lifetime Bayonne resident, has been relying on face time at a number of gatherings. He said that he’s been appearing across the city rather than confining himself to the First Ward, noting that many decisions the First Ward Councilman makes impact the entire city.

Hagdorn said his priorities would be stabilizing property taxes by trimming fat in the municipal budget, embellishing programs for those struggling with homelessness or addiction, advocating for a tax abatement plan for developers that would be moderate compared to his opponents, and lobbying for a light rail station on First Street.

He recently held the first meeting of a volunteer neighborhood watch he created. He plans on continuing it even if he doesn’t win the election. He hopes to work in conjunction with city officials and police officers.

Hagdorn lawn signs inside and outside the First Ward and positive feedback have made Hagdorn feel positive about his first-time bid.

Columns A and B

Residents will vote for Assembly members in the 31st Legislative District, Hudson County Executive, Hudson County Sheriff, and Hudson County Surrogate.

Incumbent Assembly Democrats Angela McKnight and Nicholas Chiaravalotti, on column A, will square off against Republicans Jason Todd Mushnick and Mary Kay Palange on column B.

Incumbent County Executive Tom DeGise, who won a primary against Patricia Waiters in June, will be challenged by 18-year-old Republican candidate Kennith Gonzalez, who ran unopposed in the primary Freeholder election.

Hudson County Sheriff Frank X. Schilliari, a Democrat, will be challenged by Republican candidate Adela Rohena.

Following remarks that Rohena made during the public portion of the Jersey City Board of Education meeting which were widely condemned as homophobic, Rohena lost an endorsement from the Hudson County GOP. Contrary to reports that she dropped out of the race, she has never stopped campaigning.

Freeholder Tilo Rivas, a Democrat, is campaigning to become Hudson County’s next Surrogate, and is facing off with Republican John R. Muniz. Should Rivas become Surrogate, he’ll have to vacate his office as Freeholder. It’s not known who will be appointed to fill his shoes.

The School Board crowd

Three seats are open, with three full electoral slates and five independents running.

Most of the candidates aired their views at meet-and-greet session hosted by the Bayonne Special Education Parent Advisory Council, and a  debate hosted by Hudson County View.

Stephanie Glover-Wilson (1D), Anthony D’Amico (2D), Melissa Godesky-Rodriguez (3D), Sharma Montgomery (10D), and Leo Smith (11D) are all running solo.

The Make Bayonne Great slate consists of Lauren Alonso (4D), Evelyn Sabol (5D) and Charles Shepard (6D). They’re aligned with sitting Trustee Michael Alonso.

Incumbent trustees include Carol Cruden (7D), Charles Ryan (8D), and Denis Wilbeck (9D). Cruden and Wilbeck both finished three-year terms. Ryan was appointed to rejoin the board after losing a November 2018 election, in January of this year, to fill a vacancy after then-trustee Michael Mulcahy resigned.

Jan Patrick Egan (12D), Lisa Burke (13D), and Melissa Matthews (14D) received the endorsement of Mayor Jimmy Davis.All three are first-time candidates.

Most candidates and observers predict a relatively low turnout.

For updates on this and more stories check or follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Mike Montemarano can be reached at

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